Why shouldn't you inflate your life vest until you're outside the airplane?

Danny Beckett
  • Why shouldn't you inflate your life vest until you're outside the airplane? Danny Beckett

    On commercial flights, in part of the pre-flight safety demonstration, you're told in the event of a crash, not to inflate your life vest until you're outside the airplane — why is this?

  • Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was the flight that resulted in this addition to the safety briefing.

    After being hijacked, the plane eventually crash-landed in the ocean. Many passengers died because they inflated their life jackets in the cabin, causing them to be trapped inside by the rising water.

    Mayday/Air Crash Investigation S03E13 (Ocean Landing) covered the incident. The relevant clip is here:

  • In addition to the risk of being trapped mentioned by Danny Beckett, the overwing exits are small. If you inflate your vest before exiting, you'll have a harder time getting out, and you're more likely to tear the vest.

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